As Alaska’s summer starts to slide toward fall, concern is growing for sheltering the increasing numbers of homeless citizens in Anchorage on cold nights.
Ellen Krsnak is the community relations coordinator for Catholic Social Services, the agency that runs the Brother Francis shelter in the city.
Bean’s Cafe is across a parking lot from Brother Francis. Krsnak says Bean’s is a day shelter and serves breakfast and lunch.
Brother Francis handles the evening meal and provides a safe place to sleep, but often more beds are needed and Bean’s has provided sleeping space.
Federal money that was administered by the Municipality of Anchorage has dried up and without it, Krsnak says, the overflow numbers of homeless who need a bed on cold nights won’t be able to sleep at Beans.
Anchorage Health and Human Services director Janet Vietmeier says the problem of coming up with shelter funding for Anchorage’s homeless citizens is not a new topic.
Vietmeier says there are others in the community who have volunteered to provide services that Catholic Social Services would normally have to pay for. She declined to name who those volunteer organizations are.
If overflow shelter is not available at Bean’s Cafe this winter, homeless people would have to leave the area of Brother Francis and Beans to find warm beds on cold nights in other parts of the city. Transportation is not provided by any entity at this point. Vietmeier says people seem to figure it out.
“I guess I can answer that with, we have people that stay at gospel rescue mission and that’s not in that area, so somehow they find a way to find a warm place to sleep at night,” she said.
Vietmeier says the mayor considers the issue of safe shelter for the homeless a priority, but a meeting with organizations who advocate for the poor, including Catholic Social services has not yet been scheduled.